Picture: 124FR/Tracy Fox
Picture: 124FR/Tracy Fox

Businesses and motorists who will be directly affected by the closure of a section of Malibongwe Drive in Johannesburg are devastated by the plan‚ saying it will result in serious losses.

Judith Biti‚ who manages an Engen filling station on Malibongwe Drive in Kya Sands‚ said she had not known about the closure until TimesLIVE advised her.

"If you had not walked into my filling station‚ I would not have known! I don’t even know how I’m going to lodge a complaint. This will have a devastating impact on us. Employees will have to sit at home for two weeks. This means they will not get paid. I’m talking about 25 people," Biti said on Thursday.

This week, the Gauteng department of roads and transport announced the closure of a stretch of Malibongwe Drive’s northbound section and the "accommodation of traffic on the southbound carriage" between the Epsom Avenue and River Road intersections.

The department said motorists must note that the 700m stretch in the northbound section between Epsom Avenue and Boundary Road will be completely closed off to traffic.

The state of that section of the road is very poor: it is not properly surfaced and is full of potholes.

The roadworks are scheduled to start on Monday July 16. Work will be done 24 hours a day and the project is expected to take between 10 and 14 days to complete.

The department said it would conduct "a milling-off exercise of the existing surface and replace it with new asphalt, to improve the route’s ability to carry traffic at adequate speeds while also enhancing road safety over the long term".

"Motorists are advised to use alternative routes and to not attempt to drive on the closed section of the road‚" said the department.

Alternative routes on the R114‚ Witkoppen Road‚ Northumberland Avenue and Christiaan de Wet Road are also expected to be affected by the roadworks.

Biti said that while she appreciated that the government was fixing the road‚ she would like the department to consider doing the work only at night. "They did this when they fixed Malibongwe/Witkoppen and it worked. Alternatively‚ they can close one lane at a time."

She explained: "This is the only route to our business‚ so what this will basically do is shut our business for that period. We have tanks filled with fuel. That is money sitting underground for two weeks. This is our livelihood. All our turnover will be gone for half a month."

Other motorists have also called for the closure of the road to happen only during night hours‚ due to the heavy congestion on Malibongwe Drive.

One person said: "I run my business along this road. I see between five and 10 clients a day. I have to travel in and out of the office so I have to use the road in both directions. It is really going to affect me negatively."